People living with dementia often begin to withdraw from activities and social interactions which they previously enjoyed.
This can be for a number of reasons and it can be difficult to see the person you care for disengage from the world around them. There are things we can do to help people with dementia maintain their interests and relationships.
What does promoting engagement mean?
Promoting engagement means encouraging and supporting people with dementia to engage in activities which are meaningful to them.
The Alzheimer’s Society defines meaningful activity as ‘something that reflects a person’s interests, helps to retain skills, gives a sense of purpose and identity, and provides opportunities for interaction and companionship . . . for people in later stages of dementia this may include anything that provides engagement or offers moments of interaction.’
Why is meaningful activity important for people with dementia?
Meaningful activity is important to help us all maintain a good quality of life, whether we are living with dementia or not. It is particularly important for people with dementia as it:
- Helps maintain skills and independence
- Contributes to maintaining cognitive function
- Helps build and preserve self-esteem and self-confidence
- Provides an outlet for self-expression
- Offers social and emotional connection
The type of meaningful activity a person with dementia will be able to engage in will depend on their interests, strengths and abilities.
Meaningful activity can vary from daily tasks such as cooking and cleaning, to art classes, watching films, exercise and spending time with family and friends.
How to promote engagement with meaningful activity
Finding the right meaningful activity will depend on a variety of factors, including their background, interests, strengths and abilities.
Try to link meaningful activity to hobbies or activities the person enjoyed before their dementia diagnosis and encourage them to make decisions about what activities they would like to try. But be mindful that sometimes people may enjoy new activities that they have never shown any interest in before.
It may take some trial and error to find the right level of activity, so give simple instructions, take lots of breaks and try not to get frustrated if things don’t go to plan. Remember, this should be fun for both of you!
Edited by Sue Hinds, Head of Services